last week: summarized.

I am late with this. Normally I try to post by Saturday morning. But this Saturday morning, Miss M & I ate pancakes at iHop. (Is that how you spell it? Or is it IHOP all caps? Everything is so Apple-y now, so if it starts with the letter "i" I leave that letter "i" lowercase.) And then there was a playground visit. And laundry folding. And one movie called THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE airing on HBO and starring one of my favorite thespians, beautiful Thandie Newton, so I had to watch the whole thing once it started. (My take away: Thandie Newton was too good for Marky Mark.) And then grocery shopping. And now I'm making spaghetti. And I'm drinking some wine while making that spaghetti. And later, I'm going to have some more wine. And coffee with Bailey's Irish cream because I'm a grown up now and I can do that.

Here is last week, summarized: 

Monday-Wednesday, I treaded water, as I normally do. Mondays are always supremely hard. On Monday mornings, my friend Cindy texts me things like: Amy, it's 7:45 AM. Time to go to work. Get out of your car and come inside, Amy. Now. And then I sigh and say quietly in my car, "I know. I know." And then I go in. (Teaching poor kids is rewarding in that the kids are my everything...everything else is spiraling me into Dark Nights of the Soul.)

On Thursday, I got home to a package waiting for me. I thought it was a left over order I'd put in for Christmas that had just come WAY late. No! It was a beautiful, silver ring inscribed with my all-time favorite Rumi quote: That which you seek is seeking you. It was from Tanya, a Midwest friend I haven't met in person, but we did a group blog together many years ago--we all challenged ourselves to complete a project that scared the beejezus out of us and wrote about the process together on the blog--and she and I are still in touch today, years later. 

So months ago, T threw up a Facebook post asking for people who'd like to participate in a Pay It Forward thing--7 (or more people) would say yes, and at some point in the year, she'd send each of those 7 (or more) people some kind of gift...and then each person was to put up the same Facebook status so that they could do the same for 7 (or more) people who responded to them. So. Cool. (And that T-dawg actually remembered! And it came at a time when I really needed something like that to fall into my life.) (This is when the Internet connects people and is actually a good networking tool, rather than just the hub for porn and psychos and angry people it usually is.)

I took Friday off for a couple of doctors' appointments, and when I was through, I went to the movies. By myself! And I didn't have to see a movie with animated characters, singing animals, or princesses! It was insanely amazing. I had too, too many choices and basically had to do eenie meenie miney moe. It ended up being between CAKE, THE IMITATION GAME, SELMA, or A MOST VIOLENT YEAR. I was interested in seeing CAKE because Jennifer Aniston was desperate for an Oscar and so she got fat (Jennifer, that's so cliche, but I still think you're lovely and a great actress, and overdue for an Oscar--stupid Hollywood, making its actresses get ugly or fat or play a crazy person before they give them an Oscar)...I wanted to see THE IMITATION GAME because I'd heard good things about it and, apparently, every straight female and gay man in America wants to sleep with Benedict Cumberbatch, and they like to call themselves "Cumberbitches," which the feminist in me just winces at...I wanted to see SELMA because it's a biopic about MLK (who's one of my heroes) and the husband of my sweet friend Angie worked crew on it (he got to drive Oprah around)(and also, I think they have scaffolding from some sets sitting in their driveway now)...and I wanted to see A MOST VIOLENT YEAR because Jessica Chastain is in it, and I will always see movies Jessica Chastain is in since I desperately wish she and I could have a coffee date and become BFFs. 

In the end, THE IMITATION GAME won because the timing worked out. My take away: It was so good! Please go see it, particularly if you're a WW 2 buff and/or technogeek. It's all for you. For me, I took away how important it is that we take care of each other; bullying does nothing to further our species. I cried in two places. Benedict has beautiful eyes and is a really, really good actor. Keira Knightley is gorgeous and talented--I wish people would stop being sarcastic about her (Oscars people, I mean YOU). Governments are full of sons of bitches. War is hell. Nazis, ultimately, were pretty stupid. Human beings can do awful things to one another. Alan Turing was robbed.

Now, for the rest of the weekend: 

I have a mountainous stack of papers to grade. I have other paperwork I need to fill out since Parent-Teacher winter conferences are looming. I need to plan for next week's lessons. We're going to a friend's house to celebrate men in helmets jumping on top of each other (I'm going for the Super Bowl commercials, beer and chips/dip--I simply don't understand sports) (though, for some reason, I think I could potentially kick ass at golf). I need to work on my resume some more. I hate grey, rainy days--yesterday was beautifully sunny and I had 95% more energy. Today it got cloudy and grey and my whole outlook depleted. I may need to invest in an anti-winter darkness light. It is not lost on me that I am winter-born and do not like anything about the winter, except for the occasional snow day here and there. And that's only because I'm a Southerner and it's a novelty; if I were up North, I'd have ten million complaints about snow.

I keep meaning to meditate and then keep forgetting to. I have way too much on my schedule and a needy, clingy 6 year old isn't helping things. On Friday, when I had some time to myself, I just sat in the peace and quiet...have you done that? You should do that. It's hard, especially if you have a brain like mine that refuses to shut up. But I found that if I just breathed deeply and really focused, for a good 10 minutes or so there were no worries; only peace. It was nice.

You know what else is nice? Jeff Bridges. Jeff Bridges just made a music album for insomniacs who want to help kids not be hungry. You can download his Sleeping Music, for whatever you'd like to donate--there is no real price on it--and every single bit of money goes to No Kid Hungry. Isn't that nice? Jeff Bridges is another favorite thespian of mine. But he's also such a lovely, artistic soul--he's a musician, and I think he's also a gifted photographer. (I find that most creative people are gifted in more than one craft or like to dabble in more than one. My friend P is a talented writer and musician...my friend Kat is a talented writer and photographer...most creatives are drawn to anything that creates. Which seems to make sense, in the grand scheme of things.)

Next time I write I will probably be doing some more promoting for several of my favorite thespians (including but not limited to Jason Isaacs...hello to him) because March 5 is coming, and March 5 is when DIG (on USA!) starts. I've been slacking off on my DIG free PR I promised to Jason Isaacs last summer on his Instagram account. This looks like an amazingly amazeballs show that will make you question EVERYTHING. If you don't live in the United States, you will be so sad. So sad! Since you won't get to see it until they put out the DVD for it (I hope they will put out a DVD for it, so other countries can see it). I don't necessarily feel bad about this, since I had to wait to see the BBC's Case Histories series 1 and 2. 

But it does underscore my belief that, because stories connect human beings, there should be no borders when good shows come on the air. We have satellites flying around in outer space right now--I'm sure technology exists that would let whoever, wherever, watch any country's television shows. If I can listen to BBC radio live every Friday, then I should be able to watch BBC television shows live whenever. Join the 21st century, television networks. 

Until that happens, we'll just have to share amongst ourselves, I guess. Be storytelling Resistance Fighters and all that. Channel our inner Alan Turings. Pay it forward. Let Jeff Bridges put us to sleep while we help hungry kids eat. Get plenty of UV Vitamin D rays, wherever we can, in the low winter sun moments. Be unimaginably wonderful and stupid, amazingly brilliant and crazy; find ways to channel our inner Resistance Fighters about pretty much everything. Resist everyone and everything that would like to contain us, keep us within safe borders and tell us who to be, where to go. Let's work on that, focus on it, all of February. Want to?

Here's a picture with something I'm pondering for the week and you can too, if you'd like:


yin yang.

I've had 2 glasses of Riesling and now I'm nursing this...Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter ale?...stuff. Beer. Whatever. It's been a day, Internet. A lot of people at work got some bad news today, people were angry, some were crying, and...well, Jesus God. It's hard no matter what your job is sometimes, isn't it?

On Sunday, I went for a 2 hour, 3 mile hike to clear my brain. (No wine or beer with me--just my cheery disposition and a sunny day to light my way.) I so love a good, long, solitary hike. I love to be outdoors--is there anything better than being outside? (No. No, there is not.) My brain did clear for 2 hours (and 3 miles). My brain is a big ol' checked out fog these days, generally. But I'll be okay. I always am. I feel this quote sums me up (and you, too, by the way):

Speaking of, did you know today is Holocaust Rememberance Day? Seventy years ago today, Auschwitz was liberated. Hitler and his insane plan were defeated (though it still lives on in various formats now--every time I see a Confederate flag flying in someone's yard, I think: WTF is wrong with you??). Humanity came through, in spite of itself. I've seen videos and pictures on the Internet today of what human beings are truly capable of. (How are we still here? Good grief, humankind. What the fuck is wrong with you??) I've really had to focus hard to remind myself we are also capable of running back into burning buildings that are about to collapse on themselves to rescue people who are on the brink of death. That there are people in the world, even today, who sacrifice everything so others may stay alive. We are yin yang, our species. So let's always try to be more yin than yang, okay? 

(Yesterday, at Target, a little girl was spending a $50 birthday gift card and was about to have to put back stockings because her mom's credit card got turned down for the extra $1.50 they owed. I gave them $2 to buy the pair of stockings putting them over the top--she was so sad when her mom told her she'd have to put them back, and her sadness [over a pair of stockings, you guys!] made my heart break. Then she was such a sweetheart, thanking me over and over again like I'd just rescued her from a burning building. But honestly. Isn't this just what we should do for each other? We should take care of each other, Planet Earth. When you see someone who is struggling, take care of them. We are all in this together, this is a hard rock to orbit the sun on. We are all we have in our section of this Universe. Don't ever, ever break each other. We are precious pieces of each other--what we do to one, we do to ourselves and all of us.)

So now that I told you that story, I'm going to counterbalance it with a story of a time I had to break another human being. (Yin....yang. Remember?) 

Once upon a time, C and I separated. We are (sadly) re-entering this space again, but for different (yet some of the same) reasons again. Also (and more important), I'm a much different person than that other time. Because once upon a time, it was 2007 and I was a confused and angry girl. I was a girl who was oh-so-willing to let very damaged, broken people light the dark path in front of me. (Tip: don't put damaged, broken people in charge. They are always bulls in a china shop.)

So a bunch of stuff happened, but the most important thing was that I was in contact with a bunch of very broken, damaged people. Who can rub off on you. And then suddenly, BAM. You're very broken and damaged too. (Crazy. What I'm trying to communicate to you right now is that I was very, very crazy, back in 2007.)

I hung out in a lot of bars. Once, a friend abandoned me from 11 PM until 8 AM so she could have a one night stand with a lad from Leeds, and I had no way to get home. I drank a lot of shandies. I kissed people I didn't really want to kiss. I met many, many foreign nationals. And I fell in love with an Australian. A married Australian. A married Australian with 3 children. A married Australian with 3 children all under the age of 8. A married Australian with 3 children all under the age of 8 who looked like Channing Tatum and was the most broken and damaged of any human being I've ever encountered and I'm being very, very serious when I say that.

I am not proud of myself, and I would not, will not, could not repeat the decision to do that again. But I will say, in my defense: I was crazy. And so was he. We were all a little broken, a tiny bit of crazy, back then. (This feels very F. Scott Fitzgerald, doesn't it? Maybe Dickensian with a side of Seuss.)

At any rate, his work project ended and he had to return to Oz. And I ended curled up in a fetal position, in a corner, mixing cheap chocolate martinis alone, mourning my life, most days of the week. 

Then I started trying to recreate him.

First, I went to AAAALLLLL of the Internet and found all of the free internet dating sites it offered. Next, I posted ad after ad, looking for Aussies in America, with stunning blue eyes, and disarming accents, hoping they could rescue me from myself. Then, I went out for many, many coffee dates with men who had stunning blue eyes, no disarming accents, but lots of crazy in their brains. 

Last, I ended up with Jimmy. (Not his real name, but fairly close.)

Jimmy was American (no disarming and/or Aussie accent). But he had blue eyes and he SEEMED sane. (Don't they all...until it's too late. This always seems to be a plot line in every psychological cinematic thriller, by the way.) 

We emailed each other for a bit, then talked on the phone. The first conversation was fine, but by the second conversation, he was talking about honeymoons in Hawaii. This was sort of a red flag since I just wanted to, you know, meet for dinner first. Can we just meet for dinner first and THEN talk Hawaii? 

When we met for dinner, I knew straight away this was Not The One For Me. First off, he was dressed head to toe in RockStar** Paraphernalia. Every finger adorned with a skull ring, a huge and bling-y silver crucifix dangled to the midriff section of his black turtleneck (black pants and black Doc Martens under that). Moussed bleached blonde hair. Bleached blonde goatee. Stunning blue eyes! Encased in kohl black eyeliner. (This is called: Dressing a part. Or trying too hard. Or channeling Hollywood.)

But I'd spent 4 hours on the phone with him and couldn't just be an a-hole and walk out on him. I mean, we'd made eye contact (don't make eye contact). So I sat down and we had beer and wings. And then? Then, Jimmy proceeded to do exactly what all the dating experts tell you NOT to do on a first date (don't do these on a second, third, fourth, or sixth date either...wait until your 5th anniversary, actually):

*He asked me question after question. Before I'd even get an answer out, he was asking another question.

*He bragged about all the money he made and how he was always going to fabulous parties for work and being sent on amazing trips around the world....and maybe if I was nice to him, he'd take me one day.

*He talked about our 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th date...and about weddings. Like, for real? I thought that was what chicks did. 

*He talked bad about all his exes. The B-word was flung about. The C-word was used for one.

*He detailed all of his physical limitations:
-a bad knee, a bad shoulder, a bad kidney (he was drinking a 52 ounce draft beer in spite of it), frequent diarrhea, and his sleep apnea device (I know about these because C had one at the beginning of our relationship--I noticed he stopped breathing at night, so he went to a sleep clinic which diagnosed him with sleep apnea and gave him this. We called it the Mig Mask, because it looked like what Top Gun fighters would wear in airplanes and sounded like Darth Vader....All....Night...Long. After 3 days, I told him: Hey, uh, I love you and all but sorry. You're just going to have to die in your sleep...because I can't sleep. And so back it went.) (Seriously, if Jimmy had told me he used a penis pump for his erectile dysfunction, I would not have been shocked or surprised. I would have been grossed out beyond belief, but completely unsurprised.) 

Essentially, he was just trying too hard. 

At the end of the date, he tried to kiss me. I punted left and offered a handshake. He pouted, then proceeded to text me, email me, and leave me angry and drunken voicemails at 3 AM for months and months. I'm talking hundreds of emails, emails that contained one picture with a caption of what he'd like to do to me via this picture (a desert sunset: let's wake up to this...together! ....a beach sunset: let's walk on the beach with this in the background! ....a teddy bear: I'll be your cuddly squidgy bear, every night!) 

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: Oh, Amy! Jimmy sounds like a lonely, sweet man who just wanted your affection. Why are you being so conceited and judgmental?! Right. Listen: that's exactly what Jimmy said to me...IN HIS 10,000TH EMAIL DIATRIBE.

So it was upsetting and weird. And the voicemails were a tad scary--he'd start out angry and belligerent and end up begging me to give him a second chance, just love him, please love him, why couldn't I love him? please! PLEASE LOOOOOOOOOVE HIIIIIMMMM.

I tried to be nice at first. But he wouldn't take no for an answer. Friends all said: DO NOT ENGAGE. AMY! DO. NOT. ENGAGE. And so I didn't. And after awhile, he did go away. For about 4 weeks. But not really. 

One night I wrote a blog entry about how I thought maybe my current situation was due to commitment phobia. Was I in such dire straits because I was truly trying to figure myself out...or was it because, essentially, I was just one big commitment phobe?

Suddenly, Jimmy was back! He left me some casual, sober voicemails about how he, too, was a total commitment phobe; so he totally got me. If he'd just known THAT about me, he'd have approached me totally differently. He invited me over for some beer, ganja, billiards, and--no strings attached, you know whatever, it's all good--casual sex. 

So I did not engage with those too. And then the drunk, belligerent voicemails picked back up again. With a lot of angry talk about how commitment phobes are SUPPOSED to return phone calls and I was such a horrible commitment phobe; I wasn't even doing it right.

Finally, one insomniac night at 3 AM, he left just one too many drunk, belligerent voicemails. I snapped. I sent him a filth-laden swear-y email in which I was completely incandescent with rage and told him (in ALL CAPS) if he didn't leave me alone, I was calling the police. 

He emailed back immediately with the following message:

"Whatever. Now that I know you're awake, I'm calling." 

And he did. FOR THE ENTIRE REST OF THE WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING. You guys! Double you. Tee. Eff.

What makes some people so bizarre like this? I mean, obviously, Jimmy was very very lonely and felt I was the answer to all his problems (I don't know why--I I was barely communicative over beer and wings.) Why are some people so desperate for love, for acknowledgement? Why are some human beings so lost, so void-filled, and why do they look to others to fill it all back in for them? I do not know. If you do know why, please email me so I can click that big piece of Life's puzzle into place.

(Jimmy eventually went away for ever and ever...until one day, months after C and I had reconciliated and I was pregnant with Miss M, and Jimmy found an ad I'd written, months and months and months prior to going home. It was on a free dating internet site and Jimmy wanted to let me know (a) he'd found it and (b) that he thought that was just a little weird, that I didn't want HIM, but was still out there looking for Mr. Right. And then he left me a voicemail diatribe about how I wasn't all that and a bag of chips like I liked to think I was........Lands, Internet. For real. For the record, I am not all that. But I am a bag of chips.) (Also, I hope Jimmy found someone who thinks he is all that and a bag of chips, and that they are walking on a Hawaiian beach right now, and the sun is setting on their gorgeous, perfect, crazy Love.)

If you're curious: I'm sure my free dating site ads are still out there. If you find one, and feel like getting drunk one night, call me! I will totally not engage with you and we can bond. (No, seriously: I mean there are HUNDREDS. I was really serious about finding another Australian with light blue eyes. They're very rare. In this hemisphere.)

**I don't date rockers. 


this too shall pass.

Going to focus on this for, like, forever.
I feel like I need to apologize for my last post. I would like to delete it, but at the same time I feel a tremendous need to leave it alone. I didn't advertise it on my usual social media sites that I'd written it; it really was just documentation for my soul. And so no. No, I do NOT need to apologize for my last entry and will not be deleting it. For now. 

I'm sort of a huge emotional mess at the moment (I don't know if you can tell or not)--something happened at work a week or so ago, and it's made me doubt every single thing about what I've been doing for the last 20 years. And so this weekend I was having a crisis of faith in myself. And last night. And this morning. And probably on my drive in tomorrow, too. I do usually try to keep these to myself, but then I went into crisis mode and ended up vomiting it out here. (Also, I may also be taunting the Universe, daring It. This is the closest I get to daredevil-like behavior.)

Further, I confess: I may have an issue with fits of melodrama, and an inability to deny my inner Greta Garbo from surfacing now and then. Sooo...sorry if you read that while you were eating or anything. (Are we still friends?)

Here, let me make it up to you...please enjoy the following uplifting pieces of soul food:

Have a happy week full of self love and Velveteen Rabbit growth. I will be doing deep belly breaths and playing THIS fun game with all my favorite people:

(I'm Herbalist of the Fairy Folk, by the way, but I tried it with my middle name and came out Stargazer of the Fairy Folk which I feel is more "me." I tend to make plants recoil in fear when I come near them...it may be my inability to remember to water them and, you know, basically help them stay alive.)


finding my inner jedi.

Me. Teachers everywhere.

Education reformers, aka Testing/Data miners.

I feel like I'm in a war, and I'm drowning. Where is Yoda when you need him? I'm going to have to do some research so I can make some type of plan, draw up some sort of road map. I know these are growing pains. I know the Universe has placed me exactly where I am right now, in this Dark Night of the Soul, because I am being asked to change. To grow and to change. I know exactly what is going on here. 

But Jesus Christ, I am drowning, you all. I am treading water, desperately looking around for something to grasp onto so I can rest for a bit. I am drowning. 

Early this year, a really amazing teacher I worked with for many years retired (early, when she couldn't afford to, before the school year even finished). Listen: you WANTED your kid in this woman's classroom. This woman was a natural at teaching. She got kids and knew how to reach them. And she was honest to a fault (she was the type of person who, if you passed her in the hallway and said, "Good morning, how are you?", she'd look you in the eye and respond, "Are you asking because you really want to know, or are you asking to be polite?" And mean it). She drove almost 50 miles to work and 50 miles home each day. She stayed late. She came in early. She was organized in unhuman kinds of way. And you know what else is even more chilling? She was really, really good at Math. She understood data--she was using data to drive her instruction long before it was the New Big Thing it is now. She did exactly what they now say they want: she mined data to drive her instruction. And SHE couldn't survive in this system.

I'm not like this. I am not good with managing or reading data at all...and so if they could drive someone like HER out, someone who loves data and sees its benefits, can you understand the kind of tremendous stress and angst and upset I deal with almost daily? I am not the kind of person they really want teaching children now. Though I do use that word loosely--what we're doing right now isn't necessarily "teaching" as much as it is "providing opportunities to show growth in the data."

When she retired, she said it was because (I quote), "I will never be in another job in which I am asked to do things to children I know are harmful." This is something I think people running this show should sit up and pay attention to. You have a person who utilizes data (appropriately) and is a talented, good teacher telling you: the way in which you are doing this is harming little kids. 

Hey, Public Education Reformers and Data Miners: did you know, earlier this year, you lost a Jedi? Congratulations, you killed Luke Skywalker.

Personally, I feel very 3CPO as a teacher. Highly neurotic, and completely dependent on the other androids. And right now, Darth Vader is ripping apart my inner wire guts. I am drowning. I am drowning.

I'm going to come up with a plan for what to do, where to go next. The problem is: there are some things happening in my home life that are making my not having a steady income a very BAD thing. Because I also have a little girl to take care. I HAVE to have a paycheck. And I need healthcare benefits. These are non-negotiables for me; I have to earn money. Writing alone will not earn me money--JK Rowling told someone on Twitter last week that she wrote for 20 years without being paid. I may have to pull a Rowling. (Where is a good coffee shop to hang out in? Starbucks is always overcrowded.)

I just. I can't do this anymore. I love, I DEEPLY love, my students. I love those crazy kids. I love kid brains and their ridiculous stories, with all my heart. And I may be able to stomach it for another school year, but I really hate to do that. I think kids deserve someone who will show up and at least pretend to want to play Big Data's stupid reindeer data games. I don't think I can anymore. I know I wrote here earlier about you can do anything for one year, but right now, today? One year feels like infinity to me. This is not what I signed up for. I did not sign up to mine and manage data and perpetuate a lie so some CEO far removed from children and families can feel good because a spreadsheet is showing growth. I can't. And it's affecting my personal life--my marriage is in shambles, my health is crappy, I'm not sleeping, and I'm totally checked out. I can't do this job anymore. It's overwhelming me and I can't keep up with all the data anymore. 

I'll be back next weekend with a happier post. Probably about Sundance and my jealousy toward all the people (every single one of you!) who got to go to it this year. Or maybe about Miss M. 

Wait, don't go! Let me end on a silly little Miss M story. Here is a Miss M story: her latest imagination play is that she is a baby. You guys, I'm literally having to bathe my 4 ft. 3 in. child in the kitchen sink. Clearly, I'm a way too indulgent parent. Also, she's demanding her food be pureed. And sucking her thumb (I told her she never sucked her thumb as an actual baby--no pacifiers either--and I was told well, THIS baby M is a thumb sucker). 

She's demanding we pull her old stroller down from the attic so I can push her around the neighborhood in it. And today I may have to go out and buy diapers and a bottle. Her favorite story about herself as a baby is the one time I was changing her diaper and she almost projectile pooped into my face. She says she'd like to recreate that moment.

Seriously, I'm about ready to call a psychiatrist. (Should I? Should I call a psychiatrist?) I'm cool when she wants to play Sick Princess, but this I'm A Baby Again shit is really starting to worry me. I mean, I GET it...god knows, I'd love for someone to bathe, walk, and feed me. When do I get to lay around all day sucking my thumb and watching TV? I think I'd kind of love that. 

She just said something to me about not going to school on Monday, too. Babies don't go to school, so I shouldn't have to go to school tomorrow. (We may be home tomorrow, together, in diapers and sucking our thumbs, is what I'm saying. Totally feel her on this.) Fortunately, next week she'll be back to princesses. That seems to be her pattern (I don't know, since I don't keep data on my kid). This is one reason I'm glad God gave Miss M to ME. This sums up my child, pretty well:

If only Education Reformers/Data Miners would let children be a princess and Darth Vader at the same time.


supernova history movie stars.

Before you read: I apologize. I am sorry. I tried to find a way to break this into two posts so I wouldn't be jumping around all over the place. But I couldn't find a way to do it, after I wrote it, that wouldn't have involved a major re-write in some places and...I'm just happy to be able to find something to write about and the energy to still do it. So sorry but not sorry. Come jump around in my brain with me--it's fun! 


Y'all, I have the most ridiculous child. You may think yours is ridiculous, but I'm sorry no. Mine is way more ridiculous. She both amuses and confounds me. Do you know that this flippant thing walked right up to me on Monday afternoon and announced she was sick. Then she announced I would need to help make her better by fixing her some hot tea and buttered toast and that when I was finished, I could bring it up to her room ON A TRAY as soon as it was ready. On a tray. With a little dainty napkin for her little dainty mouth and also some grape jam on the side, please, and oh yes: a chocolate biscotti as well.

Whatever. She's little and I had time, so I went ahead and played nurse. She plays foot masseuse with me occasionally, so it's the least I could do I figured. But then I got up to her room with tea/toast/tray, and she had her little Polar Express bell necklace out. As I set the tray down, she let me know that, for the rest of the day, whenever she needed something she'd ring her little bell, and I was to come upstairs to ask what she needed.

Clearly, I am raising Cleopatra. (I have been Googling lots and lots of stories about what happens, in the end, to queens like Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette and the like and we've been having some mommy/daughter history lessons.)

Speaking of royalty, Twitter is abuzz with news from Sundance 2015. You guys! The Sundance Film Festival is on my bucket list, in a BIG way! I am insanely jealous by each and every tweet and twitted picture I am exposed to when something with #sundance or #sundance2015 lands in my twitter feed. Or, you know, I torture myself by actively searching for Twitter news of what's happening right now in Park City, Utah. I wish you could be inside of me so you could feel how bitter I am that I am here and not there. There are a butt load of people, right now, drinking wine over steaks and salads and talking about some fabulous film they just saw. They are sitting in front of large bay windows of restaurants and coffee shops, panoramic snow capped mountains as scenery, arguing plot points and debating endings while snowboarders and skiiers hop onto ski lifts in the background.

I'm sure they're also working very, very hard out there in Sundance Land. It must be exhausting to visit swag parties (party after party!) with people handing you expensive things (free of charge!). And then? To have to go watch a lot of movies (movie after movie!) on top of that? I seriously don't know how they manage. And then after all the interviews, they maybe do some skiing. Or sit in a hot tub surrounded by snowy icicles. Eat a steak. Have fans send complimentary drinks to your table. Hard stuff like that. The life of a movie star is very, very strenuous, I can tell.

Here's what I did today, just to compare/contrast: I taught Calendar Math. I made 6 people move their behavior clips down; one landed on Purple (the SUPER DUPER BAD color...I gave him a choice: lose indoor recess or I call your mom--he chose wisely and went for recess). I gave a Reading Comprehension quiz and a Word Study quiz. I had to say "NO" exactly 10,000 times. I taught a 40 minute lesson on stars and constellations. I had to do indoor (aka LOUD) recess because it was disgusting and rainy outside. I had to deal with two boys hitting each other in the boys' bathroom--both had confusing stories about who did what when where why. I deflected 25 tattle tales. I made one child cry because she had 2 yellow owls on her weekly conduct card and didn't get to go to the treasure box. I had to help dress a boy who dresses himself every morning...in the dark, obviously--his shirt was buttoned all crazy and it was inside out. He also had his shoes on the wrong feet, but they were two different shoes so there was nothing I could do to help him there. I had to have a long conversation with someone about telling the truth, no matter what. I had to have a long conversation with someone else about how it's okay not to know but NOT okay not to try. I had to have a long conversation with everybody about how reading every day is important or they'll never increase their reading level data. I had to re-direct constantly, and nobody (nobody!) felt like walking through the halls with a bubble in their mouth today.

The highlight of my WHOLE day? Showing them THIS VIDEO and having 3 out of 25 kids say (out loud), "Wow! That was AMAZING! So, that means that inside, we're...STARS!")

Yes you are, my darlings. Inside, you are all stars. But your teacher still wishes she were watching movies with the bigger, brighter ones instead of hanging out here with you.

....Did you know the bigger a star is, the older it is? Did you know that VY Canis Majoris, a red hyper giant star, is 1,800 times bigger than our sun? Did you know that one day, our closest star the sun will get bigger...and bigger...and bigger...and explode us all to smithereens? But don't worry--it'll be 2 million generations from now that have to deal with that. If we don't melt their polar ice caps first. 

The thing I like about the solar system is the fact that we are all connected by the sun and the moon--we all see the same sun, we all see the same moon. That's the same sun and moon the dinosaurs saw, that Father Abraham and Ghandi and Buddha and Jesus and my great-great-great-great-great-grandma and your great-great-great-great-great-grandma and George Washington and Napoleon and Ghengis Khan and John Lennon and Susan B. Anthony and Queen Victoria and Shakespeare and Joan of Arc and Sappho and Eleanor Roosevelt and Emily Dickinson and Charles Darwin and Socrates and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and their great-great-great-great grandmas all saw. When we look up in the sky, we are connected through the Universe. And when we look at stars, we are literally looking back in time. Starlight goes on through space and time, long after its life has ended. I can't think of anything more magical and amazing and connecting than Outer Space...and its stories.

Speaking of looking back in time: I watched one movie this week during a frustrating Insomnia Fest. It was called FIELD OF LOST SHOES. One of my favorite actors (hello, Jason Isaacs) was in it, but this is not why I watched it. Okay, fine. I knew about the movie because he's in it so Jason Isaacs was slightly why I watched it--I did have other movie options available to me. But ultimately I watched it for my dad. Like all war-themed movies I end up seeing: I watch them for my dad, because he no longer can. (I'm more into movies like LOVE ACTUALLY and FORREST GUMP...I'm the kumbayah commie pinko hippie wannabe peacenik, remember?)

When I watch war-themed movies, I also watch them from a soldier's daughter's perspective. I'm writing about FIELD OF LOST SHOES because this is a movie my dad would have loved. My father would have talked about this movie for days after. And then he would have talked about his time at Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener University) back in the day and how it related to the Virginia Military Institute in this movie. Not only did FIELD OF LOST SHOES involve guns and soldiers and war and military college kids, it was History (capital H). And my dad was all about History--he lived and breathed it. I mean, he died after falling asleep to the History Channel. 

What I'm saying is: I found myself at several points during this movie longing for my father. The opening scenes reminded me of photographs my family has of my father's PMC military rehearsals. (Which led me out of curiosity to do a YouTube search and--omg, you guys! Look what I FOUND! ...I don't think my dad is in it, though he'd have been at PMC then, because this is mostly of the band which he wasn't part of. But more nostalgia--my dad would have eaten up YouTube, too.) It brought back memories of my dad taking my little brother and me to visit his alma mater, and that, even at 13 years old, I could tell he was struggling to contain the emotional connection he still felt to a place he'd loved dearly. 

The exposition of the story, when the main characters are introduced, reminded me of stories my dad told of upper class men being fairly torturous toward their incoming, green freshmen. (One story: all the upper class men locked all the freshmen into their dorm rooms one afternoon; my father's roommate desperately had to go to the bathroom and they wouldn't let him out. But he had to go Number Two! This would have been horrific--he had to do it in his pants or their floor or both. Their room was on the ground floor, so my dad helped his friend stick his ass out the window and find relief in the bushes below. An upper class man happened to be walking by just as they were doing that, and they both had to, like, clean toilets with their toothbrushes for a week or something.) (The military does this to its incoming, and they do it on purpose--it bonds them, and teaches them not to be a hero...you're going to need to look out for each other later on, when you're trying to kill the real enemy.) 

This story was why, quite frankly, I was surprised the upper class men in FIELD OF LOST SHOES didn't go through with a threat they made to little, innocent Sir Rat. At PMC, I'm fairly sure they would've. Maybe they had to cut that scene due to test audiences' reactions. At PMC, they'd have shrugged and said, "Get over it, you fucking weak-kneed vermin! GET UP OFF THAT $%!@#*&#!!&^%#  FLOOR RIGHT NOW AND RUN YOUR $%!TH))# @%%#$ OFF BEFORE I KICK THE *&^$%^!)(*!&^#!!$$%#*@#!*&^$!  OUT OF YOU!!!! WHAT ARE YOU STANDING THERE LOOKING AT ME FOR GODDAMMIT?!?! I SAID: RUUUUUNNNN!!!!! RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN! RUUUUUNNNNNN YOU $^%@#%!&!*&!!!!!!!") 

Soldiers: they live hard, they die hard, they watch each others' backs. And they cuss a lot.

(True confession: when I originally wrote and published this blog entry, I had the original soldier-y swears in that ALL CAPS dialogue up there. But then I started feeling the disapproving ghost of my father watching me, shaking his head at me and saying something about being ladylike and ladies don't blah blah blah ladylike. So when I woke up this morning, I couldn't stop being nervous about that, and I edited it all out with cryptic symbology. One day I will stop seeking my father's approval; today will  not be that day. Sorry if you missed it; I was astounded, impressed, and amazed at how much filth I am able to access. It was really kind of breathtakingly lovely and disgusting, all at once. Let's meet for drinks and I'll recreate it for you in person. We can horrify the old ladies dining near us.)

At any rate, back on track:  This movie gets a high five from me. You will like it, I promise. However, as a (commie pinko, left-leaning liberal) Southerner, I'll be honest and say I had a bit of a problem with how they dealt with the slavery thing, and I usually do whenever I watch movies like this--this is not a negative commentary, is what I'm saying, because it wasn't a surprise. I think a lot of storytellers don't know how to deal with some of the touchier stuff, especially issues that society is still healing from. Which seems very human--we all instinctively want to gloss over embarrassing things our ancestors did, note that we're horrified by it, and then try to sort of desperately find some sort of nugget of human kindness to latch onto, to prove to ourselves there were good people even on the bad guys side. The fact of the matter is, it's still sort of being done. Isn't it? It is. You can see it, because we are very, very uncomfortable about talking about it and worried about putting it in our art if our ancestors were the antagonists. (Fighting really REALLY hard here not to tangent off into a rant about SELMA and the Oscars with an anecdotal side story about how I cried when Halle Berry won an Oscar.) 

Lots of people, especially in America, continue to deal with racism's after shocks to this day. Seriously--go talk to a black or a brown or any other color that's not white person; go have a chat with someone who's not Christian in America...bet they've got at least 100 personal stories of prejudiced or bigoted things someone's done or said to them and/or someone they love. This continues to be a problem, and we continue to pussyfoot around it, and if you don't think so it's probably because you're a WhiteAngloSaxonProtestant. And don't argue with me until you've had a heart to heart with someone who's not a WASP. And if you're arguing with me and you're NOT white, well goodness gracious...bless your heart. And if you're all mad at me because you're convinced there's a war on Christ, you have just GOT to stop watching FOX News. I'm not kidding. It's totally messing up your synaptic neurons, giving you a slow lobotomy of sorts. 

I've completely off-tracked me. Where was I? Right--FIELD OF LOST SHOES. I wish they'd have just dealt with it or not dealt with it at all. There really didn't seem to be a reason to add in scenes to prove the lead characters were just fighting because their daddies said to, that they abhorred slavery which they probably didn't really...so some white people feel better about pieces of their history. They did what they did then because they didn't know better. But now we know better, so we should try to do better. Embrace thyself and thy history, Humanity. Tell the story like it really would have happened so no one wants to live it again. 

The truth of the story was: once upon a time, America enslaved black people. There was a war over it. A general named Sherman was ruthless. This is a story about a group of boys who lived back then, and were products of their times. One of them was Jewish, ain't that some shit. People are complicated. Life is hard. We're going to tell you a story about a heartbreaking moment in our history when the shit hit the fan. We aren't here to fix what and why this happened, we aren't making ROOTS here. We're telling a small moment story about some babies being sent to fight grown ups. This is a story about friendship and honor and what happens in war sometimes. People should be allowed to truthfully tell their stories.

I think it would have been okay for these storytellers to basically say that. In the prologue and/or in interviews. (It's possible they did and I am unaware. But as someone just looking for a movie to watch at midnight one night, that's what I wondered about at the end.) I mean, I'm pretty ticked off still about women in Civil War times being held down, confined to narrow roles, and nothing was done to address that situation in this movie. Just let be what it was--this is how things just were back then. And in some houses to this day.

But I'm also a Southerner and get the nuance--this was filmed and premiered in the South, and believe me when I say we have a sordid history that continued well after slavery ended and people are very, very sensitive about to this day. Nobody wants to be professionally skewered in the press here. On the flip side: down here in the South? There are still people fighting this war in their hearts--and they are STILL holding grudges against Sherman and I'm not kidding or making that up. Sherman is still cursed here in some places--I think this movie did a good job expressing why through his character's brief onscreen bits. This was a nasty war, and it left scars, scars that we are still tending to in the 21st century. There was a LOT for the filmmakers to grapple with, psychologically, artistically, professionally, historically. So, not judging, just wish they hadn't done as much revising to the story's contents. Yet as a Southerner, I get them. We are a weird country.

The rest was fine and lovely and what mainly gripped me as I watched, what I kept thinking, once the plot really got under way was: these boys were just babies...they were only babies. And I think there are a lot of common threads we can identify with today: children are being scarred right now by grown ups who are killing each other and sometimes using them as shields and bargaining tools in the process; there are grown ups, right now, shoving AK-47s into the hands of babies and turning them into lethal killers.

Only a few of the boys sent into fight that day came out of the battle alive, and these scenes wrought tears from me. No child should ever die because adults can't manage their shit. The boys this movie is about were very, very brave. Far braver than the men in charge who were afraid of losing--men who feared losing enough to send in babies to fight their war, men who feared losing enough to pull their triggers and fire their cannons at children and young men barely out of childhood. This was a movie with a lot of complicated moral issues underlying it. (And I like those. I don't know if you can tell or not.)

I downloaded it on cable; I'm not sure if it's in theaters still. If you have time, and you like to watch war-themed movies (for yourself or for your dad because he can't now), you should watch this. It's an independent film, and those have notoriously low budgets, so going in knowing that I was so impressed with what they were able to do with what they had. And the people they had in the cast--wow. This was clearly a labor of love.

If you have a 6 year old, you'll have to watch it after 9 PM. If you do watch and disagree with anything I've written here, please let me know--we can meet for coffee or wine and argue about it. If you do watch and agree with lots of what I've written, still let me know--we can meet for coffee and wine and we can high five each other on how very brilliant and so much smarter than everyone else we are.

One day, I hope to be doing just that in Park City, Utah, with someone fabulous, after a Sundance premiere. Or just myself. Whatever. I'm fine either way as long as I have access to a hot tub and there are snow capped mountains behind me.

Well-done movie trailers are almost more thrilling than the actual film! (You will like this movie, I promise.)

And hey, you know what else? YOU'RE a star!


miracles (in the dark).

I know sleep experts say: turn off all electronics one hour before bedtime so your circadian rhythms don't go wacky (this COULD be my sleep issue--too much electricity prior to bedtime effing up my circadian rhythms). But I'm desperate to take my mind off of extraneous, stressful things, and so I needed something flippant and fun to do; I decided to write tonight before going to bed and I landed here for some reason. I'm writing in the dark; I'm sure my circadian rhythms aren't confused. At. All. 

One of the things I occasionally do with my class, whenever we need a brain break or have time to kill (we never have time to kill; are you kidding me? This is 21st century public school) is we play a quick round of WOULD YOU RATHER? It's a game of moral dilemmas and gives you great insight into what you and people around you value (when dealing with 7-8 year olds, it can also be a great predictor of who's going to have a well-stocked pantry and bank account and who's going to be living hand to mouth and filing their taxes at the stroke of midnight). 

So I googled "Would You Rather for adults." And I got a Nigerian BuzzFeed link with (supposedly) 100+ funny Would You Rather? questions. (This is what I do late at night, sometimes, by the way: google randomly bizarre things.)

Can I tell you a quick story about a Nigerian I once knew? 

Right after graduating university, I had a temp job in a bank for the summer. There was a team of 5 of us, and our job was to enter data and file car titles. One of my team members was a man from Nigeria. I don't remember his name now, but we're going to call him Joe. He always feels like a Joe to me, in my memory.

So Joe had a crush on me. The problem with Joe was (a) he was 45 and I was 23 and (b) he smelled like garlic. I'm sorry, I know that's superficial and garlic is supposed to be very healthy for you but I don't hang out with people too long who constantly smell of garlic. Take a bath. With lots and lots of soap.

But I'm (generally) a very nice person, and I didn't want to hurt Joe's feelings, so often he'd invite me to eat lunch with him and I would go. And man, the things I learned about Joe and his land. A few things I remember:

1-Joe was a Nigerian prince. (Years later I learned that, apparently, Nigeria has exactly 10.5 billion of them running around and they all either emigrate to America or they email random people promising them 75% of their father's wealth if the people will send them all their financial account numbers. I am certain Joe was just a data entry clerk, not a scam artist. I simply refuse to believe MY Joe would scam anyone. He may try to lure them into a sexual tryst laced with strange chemicals in tea, but he wouldn't even THINK of touching your money. God would smite him.)

2-Garlic IS a very healthy food. And Joe ate whole bulbs of it like six times every day. He also drank this mysterious tea that was inky black (blacker than black, none more black) and tasted like what I'd imagine goat saliva must taste like. Joe promised me it would do miracles on my body and so I drank four sips of it and then just couldn't go on with it. Now, at 42-almost-43, I look back on that idiot 23 year old girl trustingly, so trustingly, sipping at that tea and I just shake my damn head. Shaking it right now, as I type this. (I'm just thankful I was able to finish that one box of car titles and made it home lucid.) (And it gave my body this many miracles: 0.)

3-Joe couldn't pronounce Amy. He called me Emmy. He believed in God, and he taught me how to pray to the Lord properly, especially whenever you need something. This is how you should make requests of the Infinite, should you find yourself desperate (via Joe, the Nigerian Prince temping in the bank):

One day at lunch, I told Joe I was getting really nervous about finding a job now that school was done. I was also desperate to move away, and live in the Sonoran Desert for some ungodly reason, and wanted a job there. Joe asked if I was very, very, very serious about this. I said yes I was. 

And then Joe said, "Emmy. If you really wont someting, you must beg Gott. Beg him, Emmy. It is the only way."

"How do I beg God?" I asked.

"You must do it like this," said Joe, "First, you must wait until it is dark. Wait until it is very, very dark. Then, you must take off all of your clothes, Emmy. Take them off! All of them! Then you must turn off all of the lights. Turn them off, Emmy! All of them! Then? You must get on your knees. Get on your knees, Emmy. Get on them! And you must lift both of your hands to the air, and then you must beg. You must beg Gott. And Gott will hear your cries." 

Joe took a sip of his tea and looked at me with a lot of intensity for a few seconds. Then he announced, "This is the only way to get Gott's attention. Nekked. In the dark. Kneeling."

I looked at Joe with amused uncertainty. There were two chairs separating us that day because he'd felt a cold coming on that morning and had eaten an extra bulb of garlic just in case.

"But why do I have to be naked?" I asked.

"Because nekked is your godliness, Emmy! This is how Gott knows you are you. It is your Truth. We are never truer than when we are nekked on our knees before Gott."

I was naive, but not naive enough to not wait for the punch line, for Joe to let me know Gott also would need photographic proof of my naked pleas. But he didn't. Joe just quietly sipped his inky black tea, thoughtfully chewed up the rest of his stinky white garlic, and 20 minutes later we went back to filing car titles and typing in data.

And you know what? Dagnabit if Joe wasn't right! I went home that night and did it. About three weeks later, I was on a plane headed for Yuma, Arizona and my first teaching job.

And you know what else? Sometimes? When it gets really bad? I don't have a problem waiting until it's very dark and the house has gone quiet. I'm not ashamed to admit I've taken off some clothes now and then, gotten on my knees, and...begged. Begged Gott. 

But I will not drink inky black tea from Nigeria and I refuse to eat raw garlic. (The End.)

Now. I told you THAT story so you'd appreciate what I'm about to share below--I'm hoping you may have a good sense of Joe from Nigeria now, so you'll be able to really grasp why at least 3 of these Would You Rather? questions made me chuckle my ridiculous butt off when I found them:

(Nigerian) Would you rather...

....be invisible or able to read minds? I think I'd rather be invisible. You get to see an awful lot of interesting things, and no one's the wiser. I'd rather stay the heck out of some people's minds. 

....end hunger or hatred? Hatred. Because I think once hatred ends, so will hunger.

.....be stranded on an island alone or with someone you hate? It depends on who it is that I hate. Rush Limbaugh? I'll take Solitary Existence. Ted Nugent? I don't know--he's pretty reprehensible, but he's outdoorsy. No! No. I'll just channel my inner Tom Hanks and deal with the learning curve. 

....kiss a horse or lick a cow? Kiss a horse. I'm a Kentucky girl, so I've kissed many a horse in my lifetime, as a matter of fact. It's not bad. They have soft, velvet noses that are perfect landing spots for a kiss. (I wish I could find a far wittier response to this ridiculous question, but the truth of it is: horses are sweet, and deserve our kisses.)

....be trapped in an elevator with a fat lady and her 3 wet dogs or 3 fat men with bad breath? Fat lady and dogs. I suspect these 3 fat men and their breath will all smell of garlic and may attempt to get me to drink some inky black tea.

....make out with the lights on or lights off? (I feel certain Joe himself may have written this question.) Off. I'd make out with the lights off. 

'Cause that's when Gott works the miracles.


40 goals.

Y'all know I like lists. I don't make lists very often but when I do, I am always more on track. Which is why I'm going to encourage you to participate in this list-making scheme with me, for 2015.

I read on Huffingtonpost.com recently about a writer who set 52 goals for herself in all things artsy and literacy for 2015. I hearted it, I hearted it a lot. You can read her ideas by clicking HERE. 

You have to come up with 52 things you want to do in 52 weeks. However, I am late to the game (per usual), and now we only have about 45 weeks left in this year. So I tried to come up with a stunning list of 45 things I want to have a go at in the next 45 weeks. But then I couldn't come up with 45. So I stopped at 40. Welcome to Amy. 

Oh, and I won't lie: I ripped off many from the original writer's ideas. Just flat out ripped them off. Didn't even change the wording, really. Total plagiarism. I'll accept my flogging with aplomb.


1. See (in a theater) 5 movies that do not involve cartoons, singing animals, or princesses of any kind.

2. Write 1 book review, and try to take it seriously.

3. Write 1 movie review, and try to take it seriously.

4. Go back to the Margaret Mitchell House at least one time to hear a visiting author read/speak about whatever work s/he is hocking. (You do know that book tours are like press junkets for literary types?) (I used to go to the Margaret Mitchell House all the time, but then I had a kid. Margaret's house is no place for busy little kids.)

5. The original creator of this list idea said to read a book waaay outside your usual genre preference/s. I'll pretty much read anything, but you know what I never read? Erotica. So I'm going to read a book of Erotica. Just to say I've read one.

6. I'm also going to watch one Horror movie. I'm not into Horror movies, but I'm going to see one just to say I did it. I hope I don't need Xanax after.

7. I'm going to write 1 short story and submit it somewhere legit.

8. I'm going to take a weekend away for myself, and do nothing but write.

9. I'm going to start a writer website.

10. With a logo.

11. On May 2, 2015, I'm going to shop at one (or five) local, independent bookstores. Apparently, this is now a thing: National Bookstore Day.

12. I'm going to start trying to interacting with more bloggers--writers and non-writers.

13. And I'm going to start trying to guest blog and host guest bloggers here. (Wanna write with me??)

14. I'm going to interview at least one writer (famous or not) and put it up here for all the world (aka: my mom) to read.

15. I will look into becoming a Huffington Post occasional blogger. Because why not?

16. I will join some type of writers' association.

17. I'm going to enter one (or more) piece/s of writing into a contest.

18. I'm going to return public library books ON TIME (which means M and I will be scheduling regular library visits, which means I'll have to prioritize, which means...well, just don't hold your breath on #18, is what I'm saying.)

19. I'm going to interact more with more published, established writers (famous and not so famous) on Twitter.

20. This summer, I'm going to commit to a minimum of 500 words of writing per day. June-July. Every day.

21. I'm going to go on a writer's retreat. You know where I'd really like to go? THIS place--that place looks lusciously delicious. But it it doesn't work out, I'm cool just creating my own retreat in a mountain cabin somewhere. (Wanna come hang out with me at a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains? We can be solitary creatives during the day, writing and taking quiet walks and contemplating Story. And then congregate in the kitchen/living room each evening to have wild hot tub parties with grilled gourmet dinners and wine and beer. But you'll have to do all the grilling because I burn stuff.)

22. I'm going to find a website that's content driven and apply to write for them (I know, I KNOW! I just wrote about what a snore bore content driven stuff is...but it's part of my building my published works scheme and there seems to be no way around it).

23. I'm going to find an online writing community to join.

24. And an offline community.

25. You know what I didn't do last year that I said I would? Last Spring, Jason Isaacs (Hello to Jason Isaacs!) tweeted about an organization called the Afghan Women's Writing Project (awwproject.org) that promotes rights of women to tell their stories. I meant to host a Living Room Fundraiser, but Life blew up and didn't do it. Going to rectify it. (Wanna come and hang out in my living room and celebrate freedom and literacy through storytelling?)

26. I'm going to randomly leave some books I loved reading in various locations, like coffee shops. Just to share my book love.

27. I'm going to promote the crap out of other storytellers, in as many ways as I can.

28. I'm going to take Miss M on a literary pilgrimage. I'm not sure where, but hopefully there will also be a beach involved.

29. Apparently, Twitter has pitch fests. They're online pitch conferences where writers try to get people to buy their ideas so they can write them. I'm going to participate in one. If I can figure out how to do it, and when they take place.

30. I'm also going to participate in artsy-oriented twitups, which are like meetups but on Twitter.

31. I'm going to travel somewhere outside the U.S.A. I've just decided to do it. And it may not be until 2016 when I actually board a plane, but I'm going to do it. Just ripping off the band-aid. Going abroad. (And NO, Mom, I will NOT actively avoid the Middle East. I don't think I'm going there, but if I do, I won't tell you til the plane lands.)

32. I'm going to think of my writing as a business--it's been suggested I set up a bank account and pay myself for writing, and use it to save any money I earn from writing.

33. I'm going to create a vision board/s for a story/many stories I want to write.

34. I'm going to see at least 5 plays. In real theatres. With actors and stages and...and...everything. And if I can finagle it? I'm going to go all groupie and see if I can get backstage. Tell them I'm with the band. (Actors can have groupies, right?) (Really, I just want the actors to teach me how to project my voice so I can scare kids.)

35. A lovely writer who taught me in two writing classes has a writing business now called Under Over On. I'm not sure I can afford the actual classes, but she often hosts Saturday writing sessions for creatives--you meet in a location that's inspiring in some way and you...just...WRITE.

36. I'm going to take Miss M on a MARTA ride. Because character fodder. And it'll get her out of the house.

37. Planning to take a wine tasting class. Or an acting class. Or both. (Do you think they have acting classes in which you drink wine while you study? I'd like that.)

38. I'm planning to find an online class to take--I'm not sure of what, but they sound much easier than having to go out into the elements.

39. Though I'll miss the camaraderie of sipping wine and talking shop with other storytellers--so now I'm thinking meetup.com...I'll just start my own talk shop/sip wine meetup.

40. I'm going to write a poem or short story and read it out loud somewhere. It may end up being just on YouTube. But it'll be out loud. For an audience.

What'll be on your list? Get cracking!


rainbows of neuroticism.

Today, I tried to read WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? because I'm trying to figure out: what color is my parachute? The beginning of the book is completely overwhelming--it goes into great detail about creating your Internet Presence, your Google resume, your online portfolio. And then there's your regular, old-fashioned resume to create and regular, old-fashioned offline portfolio. And how to write a gripping cover letter. I couldn't even make it past page 2 of the part about interviewing. The interviewing part blew up my brain and made me want to find the nearest wine bottle to curl up in a corner with. You guys! I haven't done a job interview in almost two decades. No, seriously: TWO decades. That equals twenty. Twenty years. Two decades of practicing not doing job interviews. And no resume, online or off. I keep meaning to make one--well, two, actually: one for teaching and one general, please-oh-please-just-hire-me-I-promise-I'm-a-fast-learner resume. But I keep forgetting to create these. Because naps. And the Internet. 

I'm really not selling myself, am I?

At any rate, I Googled me. And Facebook and Twitter searched my name. Here's what I found out:

Google: The top person in the Google search was someone on Twitter whose handle involves the term "wee." Weeglamson. There are 25 LinkedIn professionals with my name, the most popular person is in the Netherlands.  There's an Amy Samson who got featured in Forbes magazine, because she's a top rated CEO. There's a photographer Amy, an Amy who does yoga, and another person with my name is in the music industry. And some other Amy S. has a Vine account and apparently likes to watch brief educational videos on how to scare pigs. This was just the first page's results. But basically, THIS Amy Samson you are reading about right now? Totally obscure. A person of vague and indeterminate existence. A girl hidden from the known world, shrouded deep within the bowels of all that is and ever was! 

How do I feel about this? On the one hand: Phew! Thank God! I don't want any weird people following me around, asking for selfies or money or whatever.

On the other hand: I don't officially exist, if the Internet gets to give an opinion, and according to the What Color is Your Parachute? book guy that is very, very bad. And so I don't want that; I want my parachute to stand out, and if I get to have a say in its design at all, I'd like there to be huge swaths of spangles and glitter, with some lush velvet and silk here and there. And as my parachute flies by you, I'd like it to gently brush your face and leave you floating in a cloud scented like sandalwood and patchouli, as images of dolphins and mermaids water dance in your head.

Facebook: There's a photographer with my exact same name, and she's more popular than me on Facebook. I have 19 "fans" of my Facebook Writer page, 3 of whom are family members and the other 16 are supportive friends. She has two photography business pages and one is liked by 52 people, the other by 77 people. 

Twitter: weeglamson manages bands...there are a lot of British women with my name, and they love cats...someone with my name wants you to know, via her bio, that she's wearing a white bra...there's the much more popular than me photographer Amy--she's got a Twitter...and there's a South African version of me...and a lot of egghead Amy Samsons who couldn't be bothered to find even a picture of a cute kitten or whatever to stick in the picture box (what up with that, people? Get a picture, yo) (on Facebook, my mother still hasn't uploaded a picture of herself five years after joining it--I think people who do that look stalker-y...it probably doesn't help that my mother uses Facebook to, well, you know, stalk people. But don't worry--she just stalks her children). 

Also, some chick with the handle @amysamson got it in 2008, one year before I found Twitter, and then proceeded to tweet just two times, both times in 2011 and only at the insistence of another person who she probably doesn't even know now. But she has more followers than following (which is a THING on Twitter and I still can't figure out the Matrix formula). 

Really, I think if you're not going to use your Twitter account, and you have someone else's @firstnamesurname handle, you should let the other someone who also has your name and IS using Twitter actively to have that handle. Be gracious and share; there are apparently so many of us, yet we aren't allowed to replicate. (Except if I change my twitter handle, then I lose the 341ish--the number fluctuates--followers I have grown since this summer. I don't know how I've grown them to over 300, but I'm glad for them, because it's been an arduous process. I don't even pay attention now to who unfollows me--I just hope I didn't say something that offended them and if I find out that I still follow them after they unfollow me, I still unfollow immediately with a fervent prayer they end up ostracized and alone in the corner of the great Twitter party.)

My point with this is that there are a lot of people with my name in the world, and I'm supposed to make myself stand out. I don't want a potential employer to prefer weeglamson or the photographer over me...I want a potential employer to want THIS gal. This shiny, sparkly gal.

Other things about finding my parachute's color:

Blogging. If I have a blog (say, such as this one), I should make it content-rich, driven in the direction of the career I'd like to go. Right now, and I bet you'll agree with me, this blog has no direction. This blog is like a road map drawn by a monkey on meth. This blog flies all over the freaking place, directionless, without a driver. A runaway blog. A freight train off a cliff. Gary Busey's brain imagining his dog's brain after a hit of bad crack.

The solution to rectify this unfortunate blog situation? Start another one, but this time give it direction and possibly a better title. 

Sigh. But those blogs are so BORING. Aren't they? I mean, have you been on them? They're all about the same thing...X Content, serious talk, more X driven content, a link to another X Content blog with more serious talk, a picture of an interesting but very somber infograph. People in the comments sections leaving serious comments with no appreciation for irony or a good romp in the rain. That kind of thing.

Snore. I like adding rainbows to my content, blurting out all my neuroticisms for all to read, and generally just telling stories about whatever's in my brain. Rainbows of Neuroticism is what I like, and who I am. That's probably my parachute's color: one large, neurotic rainbow of directionless content. Just like me.

Tomorrow, my plan is to fill in the flower part of the book. The flower part is supposed to tell me EXACTLY who I am (neurotic rainbows!) and what I should be doing with my life, so I can live and work my passion. (I hope my passion turns out to be a job that involves lying on the beach with a margarita next to me while a Channing Tatum lookalike gives me a massage before I head out to dinner with my boyfriend Clive Owen. And I hope this passion pays me $150,000 a year. That's not that much, is it? $150,000 per year? Plus nice healthcare and insurance benefits. I just want a house on the beach, to be able to afford Whole Foods groceries, and some nice trips to Europe each summer. Is it too much to ask?)

I think it's pretty fair to say that any potential employer stumbling upon THIS content in my blog is going to want to conduct a very thorough psychological exam before even discussing salary requirements. If I make it past the interview phase. Since I haven't had to even set foot in the interview phase for 20 years. (Inside, I only feel 14. When did I turn 14+20+18?) (It is also fair to say I will NOT be interviewing for jobs that require any amount of math skills.)

Other things in my head right now:

Why do I even have a passport? It has this many stamps from other countries in it: 0. 

I like my passport picture far better than my drivers license picture. My current drivers license picture was taken after I lost the license with the good picture, the one in which I was tanned and young and wearing a halter top so it looks like I was at the DMV naked. This drivers license picture was taken after a long day of work, after waiting 6 hours in a holding pen with 10,000 other people who also just worked a long day, and I had a busy 3 year old with me who kept trying to "help" me grade papers. My lips were chapped and my hair was flat. I asked for a do over when I saw it and the woman looked at me like, "Grrrrlllll, you crazy!" and said NO. And now I have a hideous drivers license picture. I wince every time I have to whip it out to buy wine.

At some point, they stop asking you to show proof of age, don't they? I could let my hair go its natural poopy brown with a lot of strands of grey, but I am too vain. And having more fun as a blonde. (I'm not having any fun--I go to work, come home, cook/eat/clean dinner, collapse exhausted. But my hair looks GREAT.)

I hope I get to use my passport before 2015 comes to an end. I hope my flower graph tells me I should be in a job that requires a lot of passport whipping outage, and that Clive Owen needs a new manager and I'M HER, and that a life on the beach is in my near future. This feels just like I'm about to call 1-900-PSYCHICS. I hope my palm has a famous line on it somewhere. (Actually, I don't want to be famous--I just want to be slightly well off, with a small troop of adoring fans who send me chocolates and wine now and then and tell me how fabulous my hair looks. .......everybody wants that, right? Right?)

This is all I have tonight. Tomorrow is Dr. Martin Luther King Day, and I'm going to honor his memory by sleeping in late and pondering my navel area. I'm sure he'd be so proud.